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So, what difference does it make how the dust was ignited if, contrary to the laws and regulations made and provided, that dust existed there to an explosive degree? That is the problem of management.
Mine workers come to Congress and say, “When an inspector finds that dust to be hazardous, we want him to have the right to remove men from the place of danger," and the coal operators and their paid agents come here and say, "No, don't do that; we would rather kill them.”
When they say that, they damn their souls to eternal hell. Yet, that is what they say. Some of them could go out and earn an honest living, but they prefer to do the dirty work of saying that coal miners shall continue to die.
We hope the Congress will repudiate that influence. We hope the Congress will make good its promise, which it gave the coal miners of this country, that if the States would not protect them, the Federal Government would.
Thank you, gentlemen.
Mr. KELLEY. The committee will stand adjourned subject to the call of the Chair. I wish at this point to insert in the record a statement and telegram from interested parties. (The telegram and statement referred to above are as follows:)
FROSTBURG, MD., June 18, 1949. Hon. AUGUSTINE B. KELLEY,
House Office Building:
FRANK M. POWERS,
STATEMENT OF W. F. COBB, PRESIDENT, GALLOWAY COAL MINING Co., INC., CARBON
HILL, ALA., REPRESENTATING THE ALABAMA MINING INSTITUTE
First, I would like to state that the members of the institute, like myself, are genuinely interested in the safety of their mining operations and of the industry as a whole. This, we feel, has been demonstrated by the continued and consistent improvement in safety conditions in the mines and the adoption of any reasonable safeguards that would accomplish this purpose.
These men are deeply appreciative of the good work that has been done, and is being done, by the United States Bureau of Mines and have the highest regard for the ability and integrity of the personnel of the Bureau.
Our opposition to the proposed bill is based primarily on the fact that the proposed bill delegates to the Bureau of Mines duties and responsibilities not intended, or necessary, for it to assume and duplicates the services now efficiently performed by our State agencies.
As an experimental, investigative, educational, and advisory agency, the service of the Bureau of Mines has been, and will continue to be, of material benefit to the mining industry. As a policing agency, we believe that its value to the industry would be lessened, its efforts in this regard would merely result in unnecessary duplication of existing adequate State facilities, confusion as to authority, unnecessary expense to the taxpayer and to the coal industry.
As an experimental, investigative, educational and advisory agency, the Bureau of Mines has rendered a valuable service to the industry and the Nation which, because of the scope of its activities, no State agency could supply. Among the many services rendered by the Bureau of Mines, the promulgation of the Federal Mine Safety Code is recognized as a worthwhile and difficult undertaking as it aitempts to set up some form of standards to be applicable to the widely varying mining conditions applying throughout the coal fields of the United States. As an adjunct to the agreement between the Coal Mines Administration and the United Mine Workers of America, providing for Federal operation of the coal mines in an emergency, its adoption was, no doubt, considered necessary and the Bureau of Mines utilized as the most convenient agency to carry out this commitment. The Coal Mines Administrator, however, in his administrative memorandoum No. 5, dated July 24, 1946, states, in part, that
"Preparation of the code presented difficult and complex questions due, among other things, to the necessity for continued maximum production consistent with reasonable safety conditions and practices in the mines and the wide variety of types, conditions and methods of mines and mining to which the code must be applicable."
The Administrator made no claim of infallibility for this Federal Mine Safety Code and further stated :
"Undoubtedly, as experience is acquired in the administration of the code, there will be revealed desirable additions, deletions and modifications."
Certainly, the promulgation of a safety code, based upon the experience and investigations of the Bureau of Mines, should be available to the industry and to the State departments of mines, as a standard of perfection, to be considered with such modifications as may be necessary and desirable from actual experience to suit the widely varying conditions in different localities. If necessary, or de sirable, revisions in State mining laws should be made to cover, and the enforcement of such laws left in the hands of competent mining men from such departments, experienced in such conditions.
The division of safety and inspection of the department of Industrial Relations of the State of Alabama has an adequate staff of mine inspectors, who are competent mining men, experienced in mining conditions peculiar to that area and who regularly and thoroughly inspect the mines of the State. They have ample authority, under the State laws, to order the suspension of operations of any coal mine or pit or part thereof, where there is an imminent hazard to the workmen. The union mine committee at each mine also has like authority. There is no necessity for further division of this responsibility.
In April 1947, the director of industrial relations of the State of Alabama appointed a committee, composed of an equal number of representatives from the coal operators and coal miners, to review the existing mine safety laws and to make recommendations for revision and strengthening such laws. This committee worked diligently and harmoniously to that end, having the advice of practical and technical mining men with many years of experience in the mining conditions peculiar to that field. In the revision of these laws, the provisions of the Federal Safety Code were given most careful consideration and adopted verbatim, where possible.
Unfortunately, the proposed revision of the mining law, although having the support of both the operators and miners, got caught behind a political log-jam last year and was not passed, but I am happy to state that the Alabama coal mine safety law of 1949—the same bill-passed the Alabama Senate on May 19, and is now before the Alabama House and, as it is an agreed bill, should be enacted into law within the next few days.
This law, gentlemen, we believe, is an excellent coal mine safety law, more rigid in some of its provisions than the Federal Mine Safety Code and it is written to more fully cover the mining conditions peculiar to the district and resulting from the continued improvements in mining methods and equipment. It has the support of the State enforcement agency, the operators and the miners. We feel that it is through such cooperative action as has been demonstrated in this instance, that the cause of safety in coal mining can best be advanced.
Again, we urge you to leave the enforcement of mining laws in the hands of capable State agencies, with their personnel experienced in local mining conditions and avoid the unnecessary duplications of effort, confusion as to authority and responsibility, unnecessary expense to the taxpayer, and the coal industry; and let us have the benefit of the services of the Bureau of Mines as the technical, experimental, educational and advisory agency which has rendered much valuable service as such, to the industry and the public. Mr. KELLEY. The hearing is adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 6:55 p. m., the subcommittee adjourned subject to the call of the chair.)
FEDERAL MINE HEALTH AND SAFETY INSPECTION
AMENDMENTS OF 1949
FRIDAY, JULY 8, 1949
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SPECIAL SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE
Washington, D. C. The committee met at 10 a. m., Hon. Augustine B. Kelley (chairman) presiding
Mr. KELLEY. The committee will please be in order.
It has been charged at some hearings recently that the John M. Hirst Coal Co. of Ohio has paid no attention to the Federal mine inspector's report when that report requested certain changes to be made because the mine was in a dangerous condition, and for that reason the committee has asked the company officials, the Federal inspectors, and the State inspector of Ohio to appear this morning to testify.
The first witness will be Mr. M. J. Mechling. TESTIMONY OF M. J. MECHLING, UNITED STATES BUREAU OF
MINES, ST. CLAIRSVILLE, OHIO, ACCOMPANIED BY W. J. SYMONS AND R. J. KIRK, FEDERAL MINE INSPECTORS, UNITED STATES BUREAU OF MINES, ST. CLAIRSVILLE, OHIO
Mr. MECHLING. My name is Monroe J. Mechling. I am the engineer in charge, Bureau of Mines, St. Clairsville, Ohio.
Mr. KELLEY. It has been charged that you could get no compliance from the company, or the State mine officials, in regard to the dangerous conditions existing in the John Hirst Co. mine. We would like to have you tell us what you have found as a Federal inspector.
Mr. MECHLING. I, myself, did not make the inspection.
Mr. MECHLING. No, sir; but I did contact the other inspectors as they made their inspections.
Mr. KELLEY. Are the inspectors here?
Mr. KELLEY. The Bureau of Mines reported that there were some mines that did comply with the recommendations of the Federal mine inspectors. We will now proceed to ask questions of the Federal mine inspectors who inspected these mines.
Mr. Symons. The mine was inspected June 20 to 24 last, and before that, March 21 to March 23.
Mr. KELLEY. Tell us what the conditions were ?
Mr. Symons. The mine was in bad physical condition.
(Previous reports on the Sterling mine appear on p. 247. The report referred to is as follows:)
COAL-MINE INSPECTION REPORT, STERLING MINE, John M. Hirst Co., NEAB SALINE
VILLE, CARROLL COUNTY, OHIO, JUNE 20–24, 1949
(By W. J. Symons, R. J. Kirk, coal-mine inspectors)
This report is based on an inspection made in accordance with the Coal-Mine inspection and Investigation Act of 1941, Public Law 49, Seventy-seventh Congress, H. R. 2082.
The purpose of this report is to call to the attention of all concerned violations of the Federal Mine Safety Code observed during this inspection and to recommend means of correcting hazards.
Violations of the Federal Mine Safety Code and recommendations for their correction repeated from the previous report are indicated by asterisks.
The Sterling mine, located 3 miles west of Salineville, Columbiana County, Ohio, on Route 39, is opened by two drifts and one shaft in the Mahoning or No. 7-A coal bed, which averages 36 inches in thickness in the present workings. The employment was 149 men, of whom 134 worked underground on 1 shift daily, 5 days a week. The average daily production was 600 tons of coal, loaded by hand. The management estimated the life of the mine to be 9 years.
The mine was developed by a room-and-pillar method. Entries were driven .in sets of three, and room entries were driven at intervals of 600 feet. Crosscuts were 60 feet apart.
A systematic method of timbering had been adopted, but safety posts were not set as needed at the working faces. In some places permanent posts were not set within 12 feet of the face.
Coal and rock were blasted on shift with pellet black powder, fired with sulfur squibs. Dynamite, fired with electric detonators, was sometimes used for blasting rock.
Ventilation was induced by a centrifugal fan operated blowing. The fan was installed on the surface 8 feet from the shaft in an incombustible building provided with a fireproof air duct. The ventilation was inadequate in the face regions throughout the mine. Preshift and on-shift examinations for methane were not made. The mine was examined weekly for methane and other hazards. Stoppings along the main entries were constructed of tile and concrete blocks. In 15 east and 12 west single unattended doors were used. In some places line brattice was not used in the face regions where necessary.
The mine was rated nongassy by the Ohio Division of Mines. The analyses of air samples collected during this inspection are shown in table 1. Tests were made with a permissible flame safety lamp in all accessible places during this inspection, but methane was not detected.
Excessive accumulations of coal dust were present along the haulage roads and on the roof, ribs, and timbers. The mine was generally dry, but it had never been rock-dusted. Excessive dust was thrown into suspension during cutting operations but provision was not made to allay dust at its source.
Coal was transported in mine cars by trolley and battery locomotives. Shelter holes were provided, but they were not kept free of obstructions. Clearance was inadequate at several places in recently developed entries, and the clearance space along the haulage roads was obstructed at many places. Men were transported in the regular mine cars. The trolley wire was not guarded at man-trip waiting stations where contact hazards existed.
Electric power, 220 volts alternating current and 275 volts direct current, was used on the surface and underground. Some of the electric power wires were nailed on posts. Cut-out switches were provided at the beginning of branch lines in the active working sections, but they were not provided in the trolley wire from the surface to the working sections, a distance of more than 3 miles. The electric face equipment was of nonpermissible type, but it was maintained in good operating condition. Trailing cables, except those on the electric coal drills, were protected against excessive overload. One substation was on the surface and two were underground.
Underground fire-fighting equipment was inadequate for the size of the mine.
Carbide lamps were used by most of the men for portable illumination underground.
Smoking was practiced throughout the mine.
VIOLATIONS OF THE FEDERAL MINE SAFETY CODE Article I. Surface structures
Section 10.—*Considerable dust was in suspension in the tipple, and open-type motors were used.
*The electric motors in the tipple should be of dust-tight construction.
Section 3a.—The stairways leading to the loading platforms in the tipple were not equipped with handrails.
These stairways should be equipped with handrails. Article II. Miscellaneous surface conditions
Section 10.-*Oil was stored in a wooden building, which was heated with a coal stove.
*The building used for storing oil should be of fire-resistive material and well ventilated.
Section 16.—*Smoking in the surface buildings was not restricted.
*Smoking in or about surface structures should be restricted to places where it will not cause fire or an explosion. Article III, Timbering
Section 26.—*Temporary safety posts were not used where needed in some working places.
*Temporary safety posts, jacks, or crossbars should be set close to the faces before other mining operations are begun, and as needed thereafter.
Section 2c.-In some places, permanent timbers were not set within 12 feet of the faces which was not sufficient to protect face workers from falls of roof.
All working places should be timbered sufficiently to protect employees working at the face from falls of roof. Article IV. Explosives and blasting
Section 5a.—*Pellet black powder fired with sulfur squibs, and dynamite fired with electric detonators, were used for blasting coal and rock on shift. Fine coal was used for stemming, and metal tamping bars were used. Metal was exposed inside the surface magazine, and warning signs were lying on the ground. In many instances, explosives were stored in the rooms within 3 feet of the track. Explosives stored in the working sections was more than 3 weeks' supply. In one place, two charges were fired with squibs lighted from a carbide lamp; one squib was lighted immediately following the other.
*Permissible explosives or permissible blasting devices should be used for onshift blasting, and the storage, transportation, and use of such explosives or blasting devices should be in accordance with the provisions in article IV, sections 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10 of the Federal Mine Safety Code. Article V. Ventilation and mine gases
Section 1c._*The fan was not constantly attended, nor was a device provided to give alarm if the fan slows down or stops.
*Unless the fan is attended constantly, an automatic device to give alarm when the fan slows down or stops should be installed. This device should be placed so that it will be seen or heard by a responsible person.
Section 36.-*More than 70 men were employed on one continuous air current.
*The number of men on a split of air should not exceed 65 unless granted special permission by the proper authority.